Arts & Entertainment

Director Robert Ozman leads members of the Harbormen Chorus during a concert at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook in E. Setauket on June 27. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Rita J. Egan

Current and former members of the Harbormen Chorus are warming up for a special luncheon scheduled on Aug. 13 at Lombardi’s on the Sound in Port Jefferson. The North Brookhaven chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, well known in the area for its four-part harmony chorus and quartet performances, is celebrating its 50th anniversary and decades of musical memories.

Chapter president Fred Conway is looking forward to the celebration commemorating decades of business in the community. “I don’t think there are a lot of organizations in Brookhaven, especially in North Brookhaven, that have achieved that,” he said.

Conway said on hand for the anniversary luncheon will be Chris Moritz and Ray Gape, the chapter’s first musical director and president, respectively, who in 1965 took out an ad looking for men who were interesting in singing. Also, on hand will be Don Van der Kolk who was a member of the Three Village Four Quartet along with Moritz, Gape and the late Bill MacDevitt.

The organization, which officially became a chapter in 1966 of what was then known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America Inc., held its first meeting in 1965. That meeting drew a handful of potential members, and by their first performance in the fall of 1966, there were approximately two dozen men performing. In early 1967, the group had its first annual show.

Since then the Harbormen’s barbershop quartets have performed at the Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial Service, the Port Jefferson Village Dickens Festival, the annual Brookhaven Town Fair, New York Mets and Long Island Ducks baseball games, as well as offered Singing Valentine quartets to serenade local sweethearts.

The chorus, which meets every Monday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Stony Brook, is open to men of all ages, who are interested in singing a cappella versions of Doo Wop, show tunes, love songs and other old favorites, even if they can’t read music. Conway, who has been a member for 47 years, said his experience with the group is a perfect example of how one doesn’t need to read music.

He was sitting on a crate in his new first house in Rocky Point while watching Super Bowl III when his neighbor knocked on his door and asked if he had seen the announcement in a newspaper. Conway said the ad asked: “Do you like to sing in the shower or in a bar?” “So the two of us went to the chapter meeting, and I stayed there ever since,” Conway said.

He said it took him three years before he could sing in a quartet due to not being a music reader. Since then he has been in nine registered quartets, including his current group Antiquity. Conway, who sings lead, uses a tape recorder to learn. “I form the quartet around myself being a weak link. Those other three guys they all play piano and organ and guitar and they read music, understand music,” he said.

On June 27 the chorus celebrated its first graduating class of “Ready, Set, Sing,” which included 14 men from college to retirement age interested in singing. Conway said the program is a “teaching mechanism.”

“The stipulation was that you have a love of music. You didn’t have to read music or really understand the science involved in it,” Conway said.

Chorus Director Rob Ozman said they don’t turn interested singers away as long as they can carry a tune and like to sing. “It’s nice if someone has a little bit of basic ability, and you just teach them everything they need to know to be able to sing, to work in the chorus,” he said.

The chapter’s director, a music teacher at Mattituck-Cutchogue school district, Ozman started in the chorus in 1980 and in 1981 became music director. He stepped down as director in 1995 to raise his family and was replaced by Antiquity member Gary Wilson as director. He returned a year and a half ago to direct the singers once again.

With over 30 current members as well as former members on hand for the luncheon on Aug. 13, there will be plenty of stories to share. Among Ozman’s favorite memories with the Harbormen is a visit to a local hospital to sing to patients during Christmastime. “There was a young woman who was in a coma and we went into the room, and we were singing for her and she woke up in the middle of the singing. She had been out for quite a while, a number of weeks. And, I’m not saying that we brought her out of it either, we may have just happened to be there at the time, but it’s sure was kind of neat to think well maybe there was just something about it that registered in her brain and woke her up,” Ozman said.

Like Ozman, chapter secretary David Lance, a member for 10 years, has many favorite memories from his years with the chorus. One is a show the group performed in 2012, “Return of the Pirate Chorus.” The chapter secretary said the singers donned pirate costumes while singing parodies such as “Don’t Walk the Gang Plank” to the tune of “Under the Boardwalk.”

He said the Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial Services, where they perform “Irish Blessing” and “I Believe” twice a year, are also special to him. Over the last few years, the Harbormen Chorus has donated part of the proceeds, totaling over $16,000, from their annual show to the health care organization.

“The Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial is the most moving of all because when we sing for them it gives them such encouragement and comfort,” Lance said.

The singer added that anytime the audience responses to the music that “appeals to an older crowd but is not only for them” is a good memory for him. He said they have had many great responses with people singing along, especially at nursing homes. He has witnessed a patient in a wheelchair standing up to direct the chorus and one patient that was practically catatonic perking up upon hearing a song.

Ozman said one of the interesting things about singing in a barbershop quartet for him has been meeting people from all different backgrounds. He said sharing an interest in the four-part harmony genre has brought so many people together.

“You can meet up with people you don’t know, you never sang with them before, but you can sing a song together,” Ozman said.

Among its milestone anniversary activities this year, the chorus will also hold its 50th anniversary annual show at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook in Setauket on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information about the Harbormen Chorus and its 50th anniversary party at Lombardi’s on the Sound, call 631-476-6558 or visit www.harbormen.org.

A typical teenage girl’s bedroom from the late 1960s. Photo from LIM

Above, a typical teenage girl’s bedroom of the late 1960s. Photo courtesy of the Long Island Museum

By Ellen Barcel

Back in 1964-1965 some very excited New Yorkers (as well as visitors from all over the world) attended the World’s Fair held in Queens. The last time a world’s fair was held in New York was 1939!

The 1960s was a time of the Beatles. It was the time of John Denver and other folk musicians. It was a time when the Vietnam War was escalating, a time of protest and peace marches. “Make Love Not War” and “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” were just some of the slogans commonly heard. It was a time of the early growth of Stony Brook University, founded in 1957 in Oyster Bay and moved to the Stony Brook campus in 1962 on land donated by local philanthropist Ward Melville.

It was also a time when Long Island was growing by leaps and bounds. Housing developments were springing up everywhere, taking over former farmland. While the housing boom of the 1950s was felt in Nassau County, Suffolk’s boom took place in the 1960s.

The Long Island Museum’s new exhibit, Long Island in the Sixties, explores this decade of growth through clothing, photographs and other items of popular culture. A large time line goes throughout the exhibit noting the events of the decade.

Exhibit curator and Director of Collections and Interpretation Joshua Ruff said, “There are five video installations, several of which play music, most notably a film of the famous Beatles concert…”

Said Julie Diamond, museum director of communications, “One thing that struck me [in the exhibit] was a video of the Beatles playing at Shea Stadium. I was imagining myself being there, with all those girls screaming.” One section of the exhibit focuses on clothing: the mod style of the ‘60s “and another more elegant, dressy section. All of the clothing is from our collection,” Diamond said. Pieces were donated to the museum over the years. “It gives us a chance to bring out clothing which we don’t often see.”

Ruff added that there are several vignettes, including “a stylish modernist Hamptons living room, filled with great contemporary furnishings and art … and a middle-class suburban living room with a wildly patterned couch [and] a 1965 Zenith color television set (the dawn of color TV).” The teenage girl’s bedroom, “includes a lot of pop culture artifacts (the Monkees, Beatles, a big record album collection, and all the types of objects you’d see in such a room in the late ‘60s).” There’s a section on that World’s Fair, President John F. Kennedy’s campaign on the Island and information on Grumman’s role in the 1960s.

Ruff noted, “We decided to do the ‘60s exhibition as an outgrowth of the success of a very popular Long Island in the 1950s exhibition that we did in 2012. In the last few years, we have also had a good number of significant donations of 1960s era art and artifacts which we wanted to find a way of showcasing.”

Ruff added that the exhibit includes some really notable artifacts, “the phone that John F. Kennedy used to call Robert Moses to get him to begin building the New York World’s Fair; parts from a lunar modular (antenna mount, strut, micro-shield, copper cables); and terrific dresses from famous designers including Emilio Pucci, Rudy Gernreich and Gino Charles.”

Also at the museum is a second exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience curated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The two exhibits relate, “I think beautifully! There is a lot of content (Woodstock, Altamont, Newport Jazz Festival) in Common Ground that is based in the 1960s … It was important for us to think of these two exhibitions as tied from the very beginning, and we chose to schedule them in this way intentionally,” said Ruff. Common Ground runs through Sept. 5.

This wonderful trip down memory lane will be at the Long Island Museum through Dec. 31. The museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Call 631-751-0066 or go to www.longislandmuseum.org for further information. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Park Ranger Molly Hastings with the new Little Free Library under the pavilion. Photo from Emma Clark Library

When you visit West Meadow Beach in Setauket this summer, be sure to “check out” a book from the Little Free Library, built by Emma Clark Library in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven and Park Ranger Molly Hastings. There’s no need for a library card or to return a book — this is a “take a book, leave a book” concept hosted by Emma Clark as part of an outreach service to the community.

Library staff and the public will be contributing books for the sole purpose of the Little Free Library (books are not owned by Emma Clark — please don’t return your library books here!). The Little Free Library will be maintained by teen volunteers for the months of July and August and will be located under the pavilion at the beach. There is no need to live in Three Village to share in this give and take project, as long as you are a visitor at West Meadow Beach. The Little Free Library will simply enhance the friendly and hospitable feel that already exists in Three Village.

The Little Free Library at West Meadow Beach is registered on www.littlefreelibrary.org and can be found on the site’s official map of all Little Free Libraries across the United States and 70 countries worldwide. For more information, call 631-941-4080.

Beautiful poppies and wild asters were in full bloom at the Court of America in Heritage Park in Mount Sinai last week. Photo by Fred Drewes

Do you have a great photo that you would like to share with our readers? Email the image in the highest resolution with a caption and caption credit to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com and we’ll print it in all six of our community newspapers, our website and Facebook in the order we receive them.

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‘Capistrano’ is a yellow variety of rhododendrons. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Have you seen a big, beautiful crop of yellow flowers in late spring to early summer that keeps blooming throughout the summer? Are you in love with them? Do you wonder what you need to plant to keep them going this way?

In particular, there are two flowers that start blooming in late spring and continue throughout the summer: coreopsis and Stella D’Oro daylilies. True yellow lilies bloom once, usually in early summer.

Coreopsis, also known as tickseed, are in the aster family. The daisy-like flowers come in a variety of colors especially intense yellow. A herbaceous perennial, coreopsis is native to North, Central and South America. It’s a draw for butterflies since it is used as food for butterfly caterpillars. Hardy from U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 9, it’s drought tolerant, especially useful for surviving Long Island’s occasional droughts. Leave the seed heads on the plant in autumn since birds particularly like to eat the seeds. Coreopsis bloom best in full sun. They tolerate a wide variety of soil types and environments — no surprise here since they are native to so many areas of the Americas. Plant beds can be divided every few years if they become overcrowded.

Stella D’Oro (Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’) daylilies are not true lilies. The bloom lasts for one day only, but they are so prolific that the plant is covered with yellow, cup-shaped blooms from essentially May through August. Each bloom is borne on a separate stem. They are hardy in zones 3 through 10, so once planted and properly cared for will come back year after year. Since they’re low maintenance, occasional water in times of drought and some fertilizer (or compost) periodically will keep them growing, spreading and blooming. Like so many showy flowers, they attract butterflies. These daylilies benefit from deadheading, removing spent blossoms, so the energy of the plant goes into making more flowers. Be careful here as spent flowers can look a lot like buds, so don’t accidentally remove the new buds coming in. Observe your plants for a few days so you can tell the difference. Note that ‘Happy Returns’ is another yellow daylily that reblooms. Daylilies do best in full sun in slightly acidic soil.

Lilies (Lillium) are true lilies. The bloom lasts for many days, not just one and is borne on the same stem as the leaves. They come in a wide varieties of colors including yellow. They, too are perennials. ‘Connecticut King’ and ‘Yellow Ribbons’ are both yellow cultivars of lilies. Like Stella D’Oro, they can spread, forming a clump of plants. Many varieties of lilies are rated for climates as cold as zone 3 or 4 (Long Island is zone 7). Lilies are beautiful but, for the most part, do not rebloom throughout the summer.

If you want to have yellow flowers throughout the entire growing season, start with witch hazel and forsythia (both woody shrubs that bloom late winter and early spring) and daffodils. Then have a yellow rhodie (‘Capistrano,’ for example, is gorgeous). Coreopsis, yellow lilies and daylilies then appear (late spring and early summer) along with yellow roses. Finally, make sure you have plenty of black-eyed Susans and yellow mums for fall. Note that all of the above are either shrubs or herbaceous perennials, the plant-once-and-enjoy ever after school of gardening.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Darlene Sells Treadwell, back row, far right, poses with family members, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library Director Ted Gutman, front row, far left, and Three Village Historical Society Trustee Frank Turano after the event. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Three Village Historical Society in Setauket hosted a meet and greet with author Darlene Sells Treadwell last Sunday afternoon.

Originally from Setauket, Treadwell, who lives in Georgia, was in town to promote her new family memoir, “The Bittersweet Taste of the American Dream,” which tells the true story of how her grandmother’s corn bread recipe was stolen by a major baking company.

The event was standing room only as family members read excerpts from the book and Treadwell held a book signing. A copy of her book was officially donated to Emma S. Clark Memorial Library and the Three Village Historical Society for their collections.

As a special treat, Karen Martin, archivist for the TVHS, baked corn muffins using Treadwell’s grandmother’s original recipe for all to try and they were delicious!

Copies of “The Bittersweet Taste of the American Dream” are available for purchase at the Three Village Historical Society’s Gift Shop. For more information, please call 631-751-3730.

John Parise Photo courtesy of BNL

By Daniel Dunaief

Finding a proverbial needle in a haystack isn’t as hard as it once was. In fact, finding a needle with specific qualities has also become easier. Manufacturers and drug companies are constantly searching for a specific substance, whether it’s a drug that targets one part of an invading fungus or bacteria or a molecule that binds to a particularly harmful gas.

Indeed, it is in this latter category where John Parise, a distinguished research professor with joint appointments in geosciences and chemistry at Stony Brook University, and a team from Stony Brook, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently shared their use of a metal organic framework, called SBMOF-1, that selectively binds to xenon, a gaseous by-product of nuclear reactions. Their findings, which were published recently in the journal Nature Communications, may point to a more effective and environmentally friendly way to manage nuclear waste.

“This [substance] is 70 times more effective than the current way scientists remove this dangerous gas,” said Parise, who has a joint appointment in photon sciences at BNL. “It allows krypton to pass through, but it retains xenon.” Parise said it acts like a sponge absorbing water until all the pores are filled, which can then be wrung out by passing a gas like nitrogen over it.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, including Debasis Banerjee, who helped create this molecule when he was a graduate student at SBU, are continuing to work on this material.

The route SBMOF-1 took to becoming a potential xenon filter underscores the collaborative nature of a process that blends basic science with engineering, manufacturing, theory and potential commercial application.

Banerjee won the President’s Award as a distinguished doctoral student at Stony Brook for his research, which involved creating this framework in 2012. When Banerjee designed this material, he didn’t have xenon or nuclear energy on his mind — he was focused on trying to extract carbon dioxide at room temperatures in a humid environment during industrial processes. “We tested this material on numerous gases except xenon,” Parise said.

What they did that led to the next step, however, was critical to the search scientists at Berkeley were conducting to find their proverbial needle. The Berkeley researchers were looking for a better way to remove xenon from nuclear waste. The Stony Brook scientists put their compound in a searchable database online, which met the criteria the Berkeley scientists had established in their search.

Instead of trying to create something new, however, the Berkeley scientists did the equivalent of digging through massive piles of haystacks to search for something that already existed, perhaps for a different purpose, that might be a candidate for the job. Sure enough, they found SBMOF-1.

“While experimentally we need to sift through a fair amount of ‘hay’ — the computer, once programmed correctly (and this is nontrivial) works rapidly to locate the needle,” Parise said.

Indeed, when the theory met the reality, krypton passed through in 10 to 15 minutes, while xenon remained trapped for close to an hour. A nuclear facility can blow air back through the material and recover most of the xenon, Parise explained.

“It’s a beautiful compound and is so much better than anything else,” Parise said, although he cautioned that “it’s not to say something else can’t do better.”

In making the material, Bernjee started looking at sodium and calcium and phenyl ring compounds. He set out to create something that was environmentally friendly.

Banerjee is continuing to work on nuclear energy at PNNL. He reflected positively on his experiences at Stony Brook University, where he conducted research from 2007 to 2012. “Stony Brook is a great place to work, particularly for research,” he explained in an email. “I still actively collaborate with [Parise’s] group.”

He described Parise as a “great mentor” and said many of his current collaborators share a similar background of working in Parise’s lab. Banerjee’s scientific teammates are either in different national laboratories or are at other universities.

Parise is a strong advocate of the process that led to this uniting of theory and practice. This procedure will give the United States a research and development edge, because the theory makes the experiments more effective and the more effective experimental results reinforce the theory.

Parise works together with people like Artem Oganov, a professor in the Department of Geosciences at Stony Brook. They are exploring new compounds to split water from sunlight. “Computational materials discovery is an ongoing scientific revolution,” explained Oganov in an email. “Calculations are playing an increasingly critical role in materials science.”

Oganov said Parise is “known as a very creative and most versatile synthetic chemist.” Banerjee added that Parise “has major contributions in the field of materials characterization using X-ray and neutron diffraction.”

A native of North Queensland, Australia, Parise started working at SBU in 1989. He is married to Alyse Parise, who is a business coach and psychotherapist, who has a private practice in Setauket. Residents of Poquott, the Parises enjoy the beaches and kayaking on Long Island. At the end of July, they will join friends to raft down the Salmon River in Idaho.

As for his work, Parise said he is dedicated to determining how the structure of compounds are arranged. “We’re interested in where the atoms are” in a wide range of materials, he said.

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Obesity, sugar, a sedentary lifestyle and abdominal fat contribute to the rise in type 2 diabetes.

By David Dunaief, M.D.

What causes type 2 diabetes? It would seem like an obvious answer: obesity, right? Well, obesity is a contributing factor but not necessarily the only factor. This is important because the prevalence of diabetes is at epidemic levels in the United States, and it continues to grow. The latest statistics show that about 13.3 percent of the U.S. population aged 20 or older has type 2 diabetes, and about 9.3 percent when factoring all ages. For those 65 and older, the prevalence is considerably higher, at 25.9 percent (1).

Not only may obesity play a role, but sugar by itself, sedentary lifestyle and visceral (abdominal) fat may also contribute to the pandemic. These factors may not be mutually exclusive, of course.

We need to differentiate among sugars, because form is important. Sugar and fruit are not the same with respect to their effects on diabetes, as the research will help clarify. Sugar, processed foods and sugary drinks, such as fruit juices and soda, have a similar effect, but fresh fruit does not.

Sugar’s impact

Sugar may be sweet, but it also may be a bitter pill to swallow when it comes to its effect on the prevalence of diabetes. In an epidemiological (population-based) study, the results show that sugar may increase the prevalence of type 2 diabetes by 1.1 percent worldwide (2). This seems like a small percentage, however, we are talking about the overall prevalence, which is around 9.3 percent in the U.S., as noted in the introduction.

Also, the amount of sugar needed to create this result is surprisingly low. It takes about 150 calories, or one 12-ounce can of soda per day, to potentially cause this rise in diabetes. This is looking at sugar on its own merit, irrespective of obesity, lack of physical activity or overconsumption of calories. The longer people were consuming sugary foods, the higher the incidence of diabetes. So the relationship was a dose-dependent curve. Interestingly, the opposite was true as well: As sugar was less available in some countries, the risk of diabetes diminished to almost the same extent that it increased in countries where it was overconsumed.

In fact, the study highlights that certain countries, such as France, Romania and the Philippines, are struggling with the diabetes pandemic, even though they don’t have significant obesity issues. The study evaluated demographics from 175 countries, looking at 10 years’ worth of data. This may give more bite to municipal efforts to limit the availability of sugary drinks. Even steps like these may not be enough, though. Before we can draw definitive conclusion from the study, however, there need to be prospective (forward-looking) studies.

The effect of fruit

The prevailing thought has been that fruit should only be consumed in very modest amounts in patients with — or at risk for — type 2 diabetes. A new study challenges this theory. In a randomized controlled trial, newly diagnosed diabetes patients who were given either more than two pieces of fresh fruit or fewer than two pieces had the same improvement in glucose (sugar) levels (3). Yes, you read this correctly: There was a benefit, regardless of whether the participants ate more fruit or less fruit.

This was a small trial with 63 patients over a 12-week period. The average patient was 58 and obese, with a BMI of 32 (less than 25 is normal). The researchers monitored hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C), which provides a three-month mean percentage of sugar levels.

It is very important to emphasize that fruit juice and dried fruit were avoided. Both groups also lost a significant amount of weight while eating fruit. The authors, therefore, recommended that fresh fruit not be restricted in diabetes patients.

What about cinnamon?

It turns out that cinnamon, a spice many people love, may help to prevent, improve and reduce sugars in diabetes. In a review article, the authors discuss the importance of cinnamon as an insulin sensitizer (making the body more responsive to insulin) in animal models that have type 2 diabetes (4).

Cinnamon may work much the same way as some medications used to treat type 2 diabetes, such as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) agonists. The drugs that raise GLP-1 levels are also known as incretin mimetics and include injectable drugs such as Byetta (exenatide) and Victoza (liraglutide). In a study with healthy volunteers, cinnamon raised the level of GLP-1 (5). Also, in a randomized control trial with 100 participants, 1 gram of cassia cinnamon reduced sugars significantly more than medication alone (6). The data is far too preliminary to make any comparison with FDA-approved medications. However it would not hurt, and may even be beneficial, to consume cinnamon on a regular basis.

Sedentary lifestyle

What impact does lying down or sitting have on diabetes? Here, the risks of a sedentary lifestyle may outweigh the benefits of even vigorous exercise. In fact, in a recent study, the authors emphasize that the two are not mutually exclusive in that people, especially those at high risk for the disease, should be active throughout the day as well as exercise (7).

So in other words, the couch is “the worst deep-fried food,” as I once heard it said, but sitting at your desk all day and lying down also have negative effects. This coincides with articles I’ve written on exercise and weight loss, where I noted that people who moderately exercise and also move around much of the day are likely to lose the greatest amount of weight.

Thus, diabetes is mostly likely a disease caused by a multitude of factors, including obesity, sedentary lifestyle and visceral fat. The good news is that many of these factors are modifiable. Cinnamon and fruit seem to be two factors that help decrease this risk, as does exercise, of course.

As a medical community, it is imperative that we reduce the trend of increasing prevalence by educating the population, but the onus is also on the community at large to make at least some lifestyle modifications. So America, take an active role.

References: (1) www.cdc.gov/diabetes. (2) PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57873. (3) Nutr J. published online March 5, 2013. (4) Am J Lifestyle Med. 2013;7(1):23-26. (5) Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1552–1556. (6) J Am Board Fam Med. 2009;22:507–512. (7) Diabetologia online March 1, 2013.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

By Rebecca Anzel

Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society
Christine Sweeney, with her band the Dirty Stayouts, performs at last year’s blues fest. Photo from Smithtown Historical Society

There will be music in the air this weekend at the Smithtown Historical Society.

The third annual Smithtown Blues Festival kicks off on Saturday, July 9, from 1 to 10 p.m. at the society’s grounds on Middle Country Road.

The outdoor festival features more than 10 musical performances by community and professional bands, such as The Sweet Suzi Blues Band, Christine Sweeney & The Dirty Stayouts and Rock N Roll University’s Masterclass. This year, for the first time, artists will be playing on two stages.

Smithtown Historical Society director Marianne Howard said the festival has expanded from where it first started.

“We were able to build the festival even more from where it was last year,” she said. “And it’s growing in length too.” The several hundred expected attendees are welcome to bring food or try food from Chef Gail’s Italian food truck. About 20 arts and crafts vendors will sell blues music merchandise, jewelry, candles, soap and other goods, and The Wellness Nook will be providing free massages.

The festival is being held in conjunction with the Long Island Blues Society, All-Music’s Rock N Roll University, WUSB Stony Brook and Hertz Equipment Rentals. It will be held rain or shine, and tickets cost $15 for Smithtown Historical Society and Long Island Blues Society members; or $20 for nonmembers.

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David Morrissey Jr. as Benjamin Tallmadge

By Ed Randolph

The “Culper Spy Adventure,” a special presentation by TBR News Media, is an immersive digital attraction that will allow locals and tourists alike to be recruited into the ranks of General Washington’s secret Setauket spy ring. Accessed by scanning a special QR code on a panel of the Three Village map due out later this summer, you will begin an interactive 45-minute journey that puts you into the starring role of your very own secret spy adventure! Become a time traveler as you arrive in the year 1780, crossing paths with legends and heroes: Abraham Woodhull, Anna Smith Strong, Caleb Brewster, George Washington himself!

Enjoy interactive games between each episode that are filled to the brim with intrigue, action and fun! Created with the whole family in mind, the “Culper Spy Adventure” is great for all ages. We are also offering a special American Sign Language version as well as a handicap-accessible edition! Join the revolution later this summer!

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with David Morrissey Jr. who who plays Benjamin Tallmadge in this interactive journey.

Who was Benjamin Tallmadge?

He’s the young mind who organized the Culper Spy Ring for General Washington. He originally was from Setauket and grew up with Caleb Brewster and Abraham Woodhull and acted as Washington’s direct connection with the spies. For most of the war he led a dragoon (cavalry) unit, and participated in a lot of major battles. He was brave and was the very definition of patriot.

What was the most challenging part about bringing Tallmadge to life?

I’d say it must have been acting like someone with the leadership skills to organize the Culper Spy Ring but yet still be a believable 26-year-old. Yeah, people grew up earlier back then, but it’s still so young to have done so much.

What’s your favorite memory from filming the ‘Culper Spy Adventure’?

My favorite memory is working with the reenactment soldiers (from the Third NY Regiment and the Huntington Militia), those guys are great. They know everything about the subject matter, so if you have a question about dialect or terms or anything they would definitely know it. Also, trying to get the words “whale fodder” out was a tough one for some reason, everyone on set got a good laugh about that one!

What do you think Benjamin Tallmadge would think about this project?

He’d probably think it was pretty cool, I mean you’d have to explain to him the whole film medium thing and how it works, but I’d imagine after introducing him to the concept he’d love the idea. It’d probably be pretty neat for him to relive an interpretation of things that really happened to him!

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